If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It – Another Perspective

Leslie Ebersole’s well-written blog titled, “If This Was Easy, Our Wives Could Do It” took a look at the industry as it is today. 

She states, “The low education requirements plus the preponderance of licensees who make a little money in the business creates a self-perpetuating cycle of public mistrust and even contempt. We can change it…but we need to think about it and talk about it, openly and honestly, in ways that help us to change.”

You have to go back to the 1960’s to really understand how the part-time housewife came to be the stereotype for real estate agents. In the late 1960’s we saw a major shift in the make-up of residential agents.  Many men shifted into commercial real estate leaving residential real estate to women.  The low entry level combined with a small sphere of influence could produce a little extra income for the family.  It was never supposed to be a full-time job nor the sole source of income for the family.

I had the opportunity to meet with Ebby Halliday (a regional icon in the industry)  a while ago and she tells the story about getting her license.  You could send in $1 and get a salesperson license or send in $3 and get a broker license.  That was the extent of the requirements at the time.

We’ve seen lots of changes over those 50-plus years and there are plenty of full-time professional agents-both men and women–who are the primary wage earners.  We have also seen many changes in the licensing requirements. 

One of major issues is each state decides on the licensing for agents within their state.  For example, Texas requires 210 hours of education (with an additional 60 hours in year one), a passing score on the state / national examinations, and fingerprinting for an FBI background check. I read one Maryland blog talking about 60 hours of education in that state.

You have to look no further than the Mortgage Loan Originators to see what happens when the Federal Government gets involved. While I don’t see it in the immediate future, it could very well happen down the line. It will level the requirements for entry into the field and will add to the cost of getting a license but I highly doubt it will solve the image problem.

I’ll argue that it’s not the low educational requirements or the fact that the average agent makes less than minimum wage that causes our issues. The public is not aware of it–in fact, most of them thnk we’re all making loads of money selling real estate. 

You see, the public tends to loath commission-based professions.  The American system produces great employees but not entrepreneurs.  We’re taught to go to school, get a good education, find a good job, stay at it for 20 years, and collect a small pension. 

We’re an anomaly–people who will lay it all on the line for the chance to earn a living that’s not tied to a corporate salary. It’s the risk-reward principle–the more risk involved, the greater the reward and conversely, the greater the loss if you fail. 

The real problem are the unethical agents and brokers who create all the bad publicity for the profession.

One of the defining marks of a profession is that it has established rules for ethical behavior and takes care of its own problems. What we need to do is to take on the bad players through the appropriate channels be that the real estate associations or the state licensing authorities. 

We need to do it ourselves before someone else comes along and tries to do it for us.  I assure you, we will not like the latter.


PS – I’m not bashing part-timers. I think there are some great part-time agents and there are some really poor full-time agents.

Short Sales 101 – Anatomy of a Short Sale – Part 2

Short Sales 101 - Anatomy of a Short Sale

The easiest way to understand the Short Sale process is to think about qualifying for a mortgage.  When you apply for a mortgage, the lender reviews your recent bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. to determine your ability to repay the mortgage.  

When you apply for a Short Sale, it’s like undoing a mortgage.  The lender will want to see the same documentation, along with a hardship letter, to determine your inability to repay the mortgage.  If you can do this successfully, the lender will likely approve a Short Sale.

Below is a list of documents that comprise a complete Short Sale package: 

•             Bank Statements for prior two months

•             Pay Stubs for prior 30 days

•             IRS Tax Returns for prior two years

•             Hardship Letter

•             Authorization to Release Information

•             Residential Real Estate Listing Agreement

•             Executed Purchase Contract

•             Lender Pre-approval Letter for Buyer or Proof of Funds for cash offers

•             Preliminary Settlement Statement

Some lenders may require other documents such as an Arms-Length Affidavit and a Short Sale Contract Addendum which they will provide.

If the package arrives for lender review incomplete, oftentimes the lender will just move the file aside and pick up the next one on the stack.  If the real estate agent isn’t diligent about following up with the lender, your file could just sit on the lender’s desk indefinitely with no action being taken.  In the mean time, you’re moving ever closer to foreclosure.

The important thing is working with a REALTOR® who understands the process, knows the proper documents to gather, knows how to submit a complete package, and regularly follows up with the lender.

Based on The Field Guide to Short Sales. Copyright © 2010 by Tom Branch & Gina Branch. 

The Branch Team visits Cowboys Stadium

Thanks to Dave McKinney with Ignite, we had the opportunity to attend the last pre-season game. The Dallas Cowboys took on the Miami Dolphins.

Getting to Cowboys Stadium is a feat in itself.  A past client is the general manager of a local hotel so we parked there and took a cab to the stadium.  This wound up being a great idea.  Parking in the nose-bleeds (read: a very long walk) costs $35 and decent onsite parking is $60. The cab was $57 for the roundtrip and I didn’t have to drive!

The new stadium seats 80,000 and has room for about 111,000 with people standing on the ends. The jumbo-tron must be one of the wonders of the world. I’ve never seen an HD picture that large.  Everything else about the place is first-class.  Our seats were on the mezzanine level and offered a nice vantage point to watch the game.  The only time I watched the jumbo-tron was for field goals because you could not tell from watching the field.

The Cowboys did not play their starting line-up.  Stephen McGee was the starting quarterback and played the entire game.  He led the team to a last-minute win by getting the team in place to kick a short field goal. 

We had a nice evening out on the town and the home-team won. Thanks Dave!

Nevada Political Candidate Faces Copyright Lawsuit

It appears that Sharon Angle’s campaign is the target of a Copyright Infringement Suit according to Fox News (Click here for the original story).

Fox is reporting that the campaign allegedly reprinted two stories from the Las Vegas Review Journal. What’s really interesting is that the Review Journal sold their rights to Righthaven, who actually filed the suit.  Fox News reports that Righthaven scours the Internet looking for copies of Review Journal stories.  When they find someone with deep pockets, they purchase the copyrights and file suit.

If you’ve read my other blogs on Copyright Infringement you know I’m dead set against the theft of intellectual property.  What I find really interesting about Righthaven is that they have turned this into a business.  Find a potential violation, buy the rights, and file a suit.

This tactic reminds me of the now-famous Getty Images letter program. Getty hired a third-party to scan the Internet looking for copies of their images. Once found, they would send the site owner a letter demanding proof of licensing or a fee between $1000 and $1500 per image as a settlement in lieu of a lawsuit.

One of their major issues was that the vast majority of the images they sell have not been registered with the Federal Copyright Office.  The lack of registration severely limits what they are entitled to collect. That said, if the material is registered, statuatory damages can be huge.

There are a couple of lessons in this for bloggers. 

First, never “reblog” articles.  You’re better off rewriting the story and referencing it rather than “reblogging” it (note this does not apply to AR’s reblog button).  Second, always use your own photos or purchase them from a reliable source.


Been Fishing Lately?

Gina was out of town visiting College Station for the Texas A&M game and I took the evening off. 

I spent some time with my oldest son and my granddaughter.   

We took in a little dinner at Palio’s, a highly-rated local pizza establishment in Frisco.  After dinner we went out, picked up some worms, and went out to Lake Lewisville and did a little fishing.  

If you’ve ever taken a little boy fishing, you know they just can’t sit still. Little girls must be wired differently because she simply sat there and watched her fishing pole. It was a level of concentration that I never expected from a 5 year old. 

The evening wore on and while we never caught anything, everybody had a good time.  It’s hard to believe she’s five and starting school already. I have to remember to slow down more often and enjoy her while she’s still a child.

The Branch Team Selects Nations Home Warranty

We are pleased to announce that we have selected Nations Home Warranty to provide no-cost seller coverage for our listings. 

Nations Home Warranty is Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with thirteen years of local home warranty experience. When it is hot or cold, they know it, and are here to help repair the appliances and systems in the home. 

Their residential service contracts include Customer Care Representatives who will “walk” with the homeowner to get the repairs completed. No phone jail! When the homeowner makes a phone call to Nations Home Warranty, there will always be a live person at the Nations Home Warranty end of the telephone line.

Click here to visit the Nations Home Warranty website.

Short Sales 101 – Anatomy of a Short Sale

Short Sales 101 - Anatomy of a Short Sale - Part 1

More than 80 percent of distressed homeowners who go into foreclosure have never contacted their lender or a real estate professional for help.  That’s a staggering number when help and relief are available.

In this blog, part of a multi-part series, we’ll discuss the different pit stops and road blocks along the Short Sale path; who the players are, what documents are required, and we’ll give a cursory overview of how Short Sales work.  We’ll explore these concepts in more detail as we apply them to real world situations throughout the series.

An important thing to understand about Short Sales is that the process is anything but “short.”  The only thing “short” about a Short Sale is the payoff to the lender.  Whether you are a buyer or a seller, patience is your friend while the real estate professional negotiates the Short Sale with the lender.  Otherwise your hair will gray at an alarming rate.

The first thing the homeowner needs to prepare for is explaining the hardship.  Lenders do not care if you simply owe more now than the house is worth; they are looking for a valid hardship. You originally qualified for the mortgage and the lender is looking to see what has changed financially.  A decrease in the home’s value alone is not qualification for a Short Sale.  So what is? 

Examples of valid financial hardships are: Loss of Job, Reduced Income, Mandatory Job Relocation, Business Failure, Death of a Spouse or Family Member, Severe Illness, Medical Bills, Divorce or Separation Payment Increase, Mortgage Adjustment, Insurance or Tax Increase, Military Service, Damage to Property, Too Much Debt, Inheritance, and Incarceration.

While not an all-inclusive list, it’s a good start. If you’re able to prove any of these hardships, the lender will seriously look at your case.

The easiest way to understand the Short Sale process is to think about qualifying for a mortgage.  When you apply for a mortgage, the lender reviews your recent bank statements, pay stubs, tax returns, etc. to determine your ability to repay the mortgage. 

When you apply for a Short Sale, it’s like undoing a mortgage.  The lender will want to see the same documentation, along with a hardship letter, to determine your inability to repay the mortgage.  If you can do this successfully, the lender will likely approve a Short Sale.

In Anatomy of a Short Sale, Part 2, we’ll look at what makes up a Short Sale Package.

Based on The Field Guide to Short Sales. Copyright © 2010 by Tom & Gina Branch.